Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Annabelle's Solutions to California's Drought

At tonight's puppet show before bed, our make-believe puppet friends asked the girls, 'So, what can we do to help with California's drought problem?'

Annabelle jumped up and down. 'I know, I know! We should go camping!! And have a fire! Then we can make s'mores with marshmallows and chocolate! Mmmm.'

Esko asks, 'but how does that help the drought problem?' 

Annabelle looked a little confused. 'Because...s'mores.' 

Esko nodded. 'Inunderstand. If only all problems could be solved with s'mores. But what else could we do?'

Annabelle jumped again with the excitement of having the right answer. 'I know! We could go to the ocean and catch octopuses. Then we could cut out their brains and drink their water.' 

Esko (aka...me) felt the need to ask for  clarity. 'Cut out their brains? And drink their water?!'

Annabelle's nodded vigorously. 'Yes! Just the octopuses. Cut out all their brains, and we'll have water.' 


And there you have it folks. The solutions we've all been looking for to California's drought. Step one: Go camping and eat s'mores. Step two: Go to the ocean, capture octopi, cut out their brains, and drink their 'water' (whatever that is). 

Don't say I never did anything for you. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Lessons from Elsie and Esko

A couple weeks back I read a great article over at Edutopia about how great storytelling is in teaching. I mean, not just reading stories, but full on animated-with-props-and-puppets-wigs-and-costumes storytelling called Why Storytelling in the Classroom Matters. Being a writer AND a teacher, I devoured the article and realized a couple of things.

1. I don't do enough storytelling at home (or lets face it, in the classroom).

2. I need to practice my storytelling skills.

3.  I have the perfect audience at home to practice on.

After coming to these brilliant conclusions, I shuffled through the mounds of toys the girls have (half of which needs to get packed up and donated) and found the perfect puppet. A giraffe. I promptly gave him a name. Esko. But, Esko needed a friend. I searched some more,  found a stuffed giraffe who promptly named Elsie, and I planned for bedtime with glee.

Let me be honest. It wasn't a great story. Esko wanted to eat everything in site, and Elsie was on the hunt for good, crunchy leaves. They both ran into a lot of problems.

The girls ate. it. up. I mean, they were laughing, and participating in the story like I've never seen before. And they learned something. Giraffe's eat leaves. Not a big lesson, maybe they already knew it - but now, I don't think they'll ever forget it.

But, I felt terribly guilty. I'd never done puppets with them before. We own them, but I've never shown them how to put on a silly puppet show. Ever.

What kind of mother am I?

Okay, don't answer that.

The next night the girls were begging for another puppet show. And another. They were grabbing dolls, and stuffed animals, and getting really into it. Really into it.

So, now, among all our other nightly traditions we have before going to bed, we do a puppet show.

Its no wonder I can never pawn off bedtime on Brandon without the girls revolting.

I read stories, sing songs,  repeat a silly tradition (a tradition that I'm turning into a children's book. . . if I can ever get the guts to submit the book to an agent), now the puppet show, and pray with them.

Brandon tosses them into bed, and prays with them. (Edited to add: He also sometimes reads them stories and tickles and plays with them before bed. He's a great dad. Don't get me wrong.)

I think I've created a monster.

However, I've learned a few of things from all of this:

1. Even bad stories about eating leaves can be hilarious to kids with a puppet.
2. I love puppets.
3. Puppets and I were made for each other.
4. If I start walking around talking with puppets everywhere, please hold an intervention
5. I really need to get out more.

Annabelle with Elsie (on the right) and Esko (on the left). 


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P.S. Tonight the Elsie and Esko taught the girls about the drought in California and what we should do to conserve water so we don't all die of thirst and hunger. Let's see if their new knowledge lasts until tomorrow. . . :) 

Birthday Beach Day at Laguna

I am a lover of beaches. Always have been, always will be. Hot beaches, cold beaches. Rocky beaches, sandy beaches. Black beaches, white beaches, yellow beaches.  Any kind of beach will do.

Brandon didn't grow up with a family quite so enamored with the beach. Ergo, he does not enjoy the beach. Despite that nearly fatal flaw of his, I married him. However, I am determined not to allow the girls to grow up with an abhorrence toward the beach. If I have to take them alone, I do (and, I do). So, of course for Eleanor's birthday day, she wanted us all to go to the beach.

Laguna Beach is one of my favorite places to beach in southern California. I'm not sure exactly what it is. Maybe its the bathrooms close to the beach. Or the playground right next to the beach. Perhaps its that you can tide pool not too far from where you can swim and play in the sand. Perhaps it is also the gelato shop you can walk to from the beach. . .

Whatever it is, Laguna Beach has my heart, hook-line-and sinker.









There is something just so deliciously perfect about packed picnic lunches at the beach. . . even the threat of sand in food isn't enough to mar the perfection of it all). 


Put perhaps the very best part about the beach (at a hot weather beach, that is) is digging for sand crabs. They're elusive. They're wiggly. They're everything a child's heart desires. I can still taste the joy I had as a child digging the sand crabs up as a child















Another one of the other best parts of the hot weather beaches? The splash and tug of the never-ending waves.  

Which . . . can be a little over-powering, 

knock-you down, 

or just bring in weeds from the sea to twirl delightfully around your toes as the sand, sun, and water bathe you. 


Turning six at the beach? Perhaps just the best thing ever. 

I even got some time to sun bathe (and burn) while doing a little professional development. Looking forward to implementing these strategies into my classroom next fall as I move from middle school to first and second. 


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P.S. It was a bad burn.
P.S.S. The girls love peeling the skin off my back.
P.S.S.S. Was that too much information?
P.S.S.S.S. Where'd you go? 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Eleanor's 6th birthday: Take a Little Time for Tea

Eleanor has turned six already. Six. That means that I've had this little ol' blog here of mine for just shy of six years. Six.  (Even if my posts are few and far between, I'm still here.) Six years ago, we looked like this:



and this



Just the other morning I walked into girls' room just as Eleanor was waking up. A rare feat indeed. She threw her fists just above and slightly behind each shoulder, squished up her face, and rolled her head from side to side. It was the same exact stretch that I'd seen her do just waking up as a tiny infant six years ago. Except the baby now has a short little bob, one missing tooth, a tanned freckled face, and long muscular arms and legs. She's a kindergarten graduate. She's an organization, detail oriented, won't-let-you-forget-anything, happy-go-lucky little six year old. She's a deep thinker. A lover of God. A sensitive soul. It is beautiful watching her grow.

She's also six going on sixteen.

She has big melt-downs. Yells, cries, and uses the best emotional manipulation this side of the universe when she doesn't get what she wants. I've heard shouts like: "Fine, I guess you never wanted me, anyway. I'll go be by myself." It is so hard in these moments to stay calm, to deliver the necessary love, firm boundaries, and insistence that 'when I say no, it means no.'  It is sometimes difficult to watch her grow.

For her sixth birthday, I asked her what she wanted to do, and she said "Have a beach party!" Well, I knew that wouldn't work very easily. So, I asked again. "A beach party!"

I explained how difficult it would be to have a party at the  beach (and that half of her family despised the beach. . .) and so I asked again, "a tea party!" And so, a tea party it was.

I also compromised and took her to the beach on her actual birthday. I'll blog about that later (maybe). A win-win situation all around, really.

 As always, we are so grateful for all our family and friends we have in our lives. We are so blessed with such a great group of people to help love up on our girls. Thank you all who were able to come (and even those who couldn't, but would have if they could have).  We love you all so much!

Here is some of the fun we had at Eleanor's 6th birthday, tea party.  Have I ever mentioned  how much I love throwing birthday parties? I can't help myself. It's a blast. All of it. The planning, the decorating, the hosting. The fun.





The table spread set up all ready for the girls. 



Enjoying 'the spread' laid out for them. 


 Birthday girl ready for her tea



So thankful for the hours my sister (and niece) spent helping me get everything ready - 




Scones and tea sandwiches? Yes, please! 

 Tea is served. 



Great-Grandma Shull got into the party, too. 




Dress up, and story time were a hit (thanks Kelly and Steve for reading so many stories while I chatted with friends! :) ) 



Getting our nails done, of course. 



















Disclaimer: I did not make the cake. Brandon worked some magic, and traded for the cake. It was free. It was amazing. Such a great cake. 






"Make a wish!" 



I just have to point out that Eleanor did not want the game turned off during opening her presents. She really is a sports fan. But she loves reading too, so I can't complain. 

Delicious raspberry filling, delicious cake. 
MmmmmMmm!  


Cousin time




 Happy 6th birthday, Eleanor! Love you more than tongue can tell. 

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P.S. She must have had a sugar high, because after the party was over, and everyone was gone, I came into the kitchen and found her doing this. . .

She woofed a few times, and lapped up her water contentedly. Oh, silly six year olds.